Re: Shipping Coal - How Far?


Tim O' mentioned about wondering how much coal came in the Twin Ports.   

On Post 65627, I answer this question (how many tons came into the Twin Ports, to some degree) and provide source data. For those not inclined to look, the NP Rwy ordered 750,000 tons of coal for their own use. I know from some other letters, they from time to time supplied the CM&StP (later CMStP&P) with coal, this being around 1910+/-.  However I would think at later dates the CMStP&P might have used other sources, and 1926, the CMStP&P did exercise trackage rights over the NP (Twin Ports-Twin Cities) and started hauling their own trains, so while I have some 1926 records on CMStP&P, I only have them for that year and hesitate to project further.

The DM&N and the D&IR (later the DM&IR) both got coal off the Great Lakes for their own needs .The steel mill in the Duluth / Superior area was US Steel, the plant closed in the 60s. And the DM&IR was on of the nations last to run steam. (US Steel bought the Ford dock in Duluth for coal) .

From the paperwork I have read (and posted about - Post 83190) coal was THE largest commodity out of the Twin Ports.  There was much domestic coal going south to the Twin Cities and again, our Reverend Doug (Harding) has the M&StL Watertown waybill listings and you can find plenty of coal shipments that started from Duluth/Superior (after water). 

 From other letters, the traffic salesmen for the NP lament that the coal companies tell the NP that they are getting "their share" of the traffic and so I would imagine GN, Omaha, Soo, and Milwaukee Road all got equal parts of that pie, their tonnage mirroring the NPs. So to answer Tim O', I would say - quite a lot, and almost up to the end of this lists time frame.  

            Dave Nelson writes about coal being dirt. I am not a chemist however, of those mail order fireman's books, most of them reference Carbon as the key ingredient when they list grades of coal, with Anthracite being listed as "almost pure carbon". I petition that carbon could be a more correct term. Lignite I do recall as having much organic matter and dirt seems most appropriate.

            Dr. Bob (Heninger) posted about GN hoppers and gons.

Of the gons vs hoppers, I had posted on that, with numbers on the NP car make up on post 145704 and up until 1950, gons did outnumber hoppers by vast ratios, the hoppers being mostly ballast cars. (In 1929, on the NP, there were 5,759 gons and 98 hoppers.) The numbers in April 1950 on the NP 3,814 gons and 4,509 hoppers. I would agree with Bob on the GS nature, it did make these cars roam far and wide.

Also thanks to Charles Hostetler for his presentation (last Chicagoland?) on pig iron, for me that is a load that goes hand in hand with gons.

            Dennis S, Not sure what you meant with - "an anecdote".  Just asking about clarification. There was some 1925(?) Railway Age article that read something like "NP saves over a million dollars a year in (finding a way to use online) lignite". I will see if I can dig it up, scan it and have the Sherriff approve it. (Jeez, I hate wading through piles of railroad paper junk, most notably when they are my own piles of railroad junk.) 

George Courtney and Tony talk of brokered coal. There were yard tracks at Laurel, MT, Mandan, ND, on the NP and some also on the Soo Line in ND, where coal trickled out of mines nearby and was held till a broker found a buyer. Then it was off to the races.  

Of other coal postings - see postings 111293, 65630, and 65627.

One last comment – somewhere in my past notes I have a comment by Richard Hendrickson circa 2009 – “not coal cars again”, however I cannot seem to find it.  Has anyone compiled a roster of Richard’s wisdom, yet?  I looked through old posts of his, wow…. Glad to have known the man for the time I did.                                             Jim Dick – St. Paul

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